The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoAF) has urged all Bhutanese to refrain from travelling to countries that have reported cases of Coronavirus infection.
However, in case of unavoidable travels, the ministry has advised travelers to ensure that all basic preventive measures are taken and that extreme caution is exercised.
“Please also refer to information on the website of the Ministry of Health and also directly consult relevant officials in the Health Ministry if travel is unavoidable,” states a post from the ministry’s Facebook page.
Further, the ministry also posted on its website information on visa regulations of those countries which have connecting flight to Bhutan or where airlines from Bhutan are operational. The information was notified to Bhutan’s Embassies, Mission, and Consulates by those countries.
According to the MoAF, travel restrictions imposed by the Government of India on foreigners till April 15, 2020 will not apply to Bhutanese. However, Bhutanese will be subjected to COVID-19 screening, particularly if they come from COVID-19 affected countries.
For travelling to Thailand, visa on arrival in Thailand for Bhutanese has been suspended until further notice.
“Bhutanese who wish to travel to or transit through Thailand will have to obtain prior visa and may also be asked to produce a health certificate to say you are free of COVID-19. Foreign tourists arriving at all international airport in Thailand will be required to download an AOT Airports application onto their mobile phones; fill up individual bio-data and present to the Immigration,” states the ministry’s post.
For Bangladesh, foreign nationals who have lived or travelled to China, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea within the last 14 days need valid visa to travel to Bangladesh and will be requested to observe self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, visa on arrival for all foreigners including Bhutanese in Nepal has been suspended till April 30, 2020.
Foreigner with a valid visa for Nepal has to take a swab test and submit on arrival to Immigration authorities a PCR health certificate issued maximum seven days before arrival. Any foreign nationals including NRNs willing to visit Nepal for compelling reasons have been asked to contact Nepali diplomatic mission abroad.
“A recent swab test PCR health certificate issued maximum seven days before their arrival to Nepal is mandatory along with visa application and it has to be submitted at the immigration office TIA,” states the post.
Meanwhile, visitors, who have travelled to mainland China (not including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Iran, Northern Italy and Korea within the last 14 days, will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.
From March 15, 2020, (2359 hours), all new visitors with recent travel history to France, Germany, Italy and Spain within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into or transit through Singapore.
Travelers to Singapore, who exhibit fever and /or other symptoms of respiratory illness, but who do not meet the clinical suspect case definition, may be required to undergo COVID-19 swab test at the checkpoint.
“They may carry on with their journey after undergoing the test. Those with a positive result will be contacted and conveyed to the hospitals. Visitors refusing to test will not be allowed to enter,” states the post.
Further, the Government of Sri Lanka has decided to temporarily suspend the on-arrival Electronic Authorization (ETA) facility for foreign nationals holding normal/ordinary passports from 1200 hrs (Sri Lankan Time) and starting tomorrow until further notice.
Foreign nationals intending to visit Sri Lanka have been asked to obtain visas prior to their arrival via online (www.eta.gov.lk), respective Sri Lankan Missions and Head Office of the Department of Immigration & Emigration of Sri Lanka. However, this will not be applicable to Diplomatic, Official and Service passports holders.
Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu